I realized that unlike the last two years, I have not done my annual Prospect Update where I rank the Anaheim Ducks’ top 5 prospects. Due to time constraints, I was not able to do that this year. However, how about a quick look at some of our young gun down in the AHL and the Norfolk Admirals.
Currently, the Admirals sit in 3rd place in the East Division and 6th in the Eastern Conference. They have a record of 22-13-1-7 (W-L-OTL-SOL). They have scored 120 goals and have allowed 114 in a total of 43 games played, good for a 2.79 G/PG and a 2.65 GA/PG.
- RW – Emerson Etem – 28 P
- C – Rickard Rakell – 28 P
- LW – Max Friberg – 23 P
- LW – Devante Smith-Pelly – 22
- D – Alex Grant – 21 P
- LW – Devante Smith-Pelly – 15 G
- RW – Emerson Etem – 11 G
- LW – Max Friberg – 11 G
- C – Rickard Rakell – 10 G
- F – Steven Whitney – 9 G
- C – Rickard Rakell – 18 A
- RW – Emerson Etem – 17 A
- D – Alex Grant – 14 A
- D – Jesse Blacker – 14 A
- LW – Max Friberg – 12 A
- RW – Emerson Etem +8
- C – Rickard Rakell +8
- D – Nolan Yonkman +6
- LW – Max Friberg +5
- D – Garnet Exelby +2
Penalties In Minutes:
- C – Zack Stortini – 188 PIM
- LW – John Kurtz – 79 PIM
- D – Garnet Exelby – 72 PIM
- D – Nolan Yonkman – 63 PIM
- C – Chris Wagner – 54 PIM
- John Gibson – 29 GP 13-9-4 2.43 GAA .918 SV% 3 SO
- Igor Bobkov – 8 GP 5-2-1 2.45 GAA .919 SV% 0 SO
- Brad Thiessen – 4 GP 1-1-2 1.89 GAA .946 SV% 0 SO
They have a game tonight against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and if the playoffs were to start tonight, the Admirals would match up against the Penguins.
Antoine Laganiere – C, 23
The highly touted college free agent chose to sign with the Ducks and in his first year of professional season, he’s been playing a checking role for the Admirals. He has NHL-size at 6’4″ and uses his body to well get to the dirty areas. He has shown that he can be effective on the forecheck and create space for his teammates. The offensive production has not come, but playing a checking role means he has not been asked for much when it comes to scoring. However, in his college days at Yale, he was about a point-per-game player. He will be given more of a chance as some of the top young guys like Rakell and Etem progress to the NHL level.
Steven Whitney – C, 22
The Boston College product has adjusted to professional hockey pretty well, despite being only 5’7″-168 lbs. In his last two seasons of college hockey, he was one of the best scorers in the nation. He made a handful of appearances last last season with the Admirals, when he first signed a contract with the Ducks. This season he has played on the second line with fellow college free agent signee Chris Wagner and Devante Smith-Pelly. He has filled the second line role very well. He’s fifth on the team in goals and fifth on the team in goals. It will be interesting to see how he feels at the end of his first full professional season.
Charles Sarault – C, 21
Another undersized guy, he has not seen his play carry over from juniors like the way Whitney’s has carried over. He’s a pure playmaker, but playing in a third line situation does not necessarily fit his game. He has been extremely inconsistent this season playing with a handful of different players. Along with injuries, he has struggled to also become an every night player for the Admirals. Could he have possibly of benefitted from playing with higher skilled guys on the Sarnia Sting and that have elevated his prospect ranking? That’s always possible, but until he gets time in a top-six role, let’s reserve judgment.
Joseph Cramarossa – RW, 21
Cramarossa has had trouble fitting in just like Sarault. Cramarossa is also in his first year in professional hockey. He is not known for his offensive impact. He’s a two-way kind of player who is scrappy and can get under the opposition’s skin. The Ducks have had a huge influx of youth into their AHL affiliate this year and he’s had trouble finding a spot. He likes to be aggressive on the forecheck, which I always love, but his overall play will need to improve. That could happen as soon as some of the top line forwards advance to the NHL.
Rickard Rakell – C, 20 -
The young Swede registered his first NHL point this season, an assist. He has appeared in 11 NHL games over the past two seasons. He has been the first line center for much of the season and since being sent down after a 7 game stretch with the Ducks, he has been outstanding. He’s been about a point-per-game player since being sent back down. He had high expectations going into the season and he’s certainly fulfilled them so far. We all know his potential and as far as reaching it, looks like he’s on schedule.
Emerson Etem – RW, 21
He’s the guy. He’s appeared in 26 games this season with the Ducks, registering 6 goals and 4 assists. He was sent down to get top line time. Since then, he’s appeared in 22 games and has registered 28 points. He was put on the top line centered by Rakell and the two have had instant chemistry. He was named player of the month for the month of December and everyone is loving the success. He looked great at times with the Ducks but had to get sent down with the team becoming healthy. It certainly looks like he’s on his way to becoming everything we thought he could be. It’s only a matter of time now.
Stefan Noesen – RW, 20
Acquired in the Bobby Ryan trade, there was certainly some pressure for him to perform. He hasn’t gotten the chance. He sustained a concussion in the second game of the season and hasn’t played since. When he does get back, he will be a welcome addition to a team who could use some help scoring goals.
Chris Wagner – C, 22
The relative veteran is in his second full season of professional hockey. He’s a solid two-way player who is willing to be physical. He’s centered the second line so far and has played with a handful of different wingers. There are some forwards with a higher ceiling than Wagner in the Ducks system, but he’s a responsible player that could certainly have the Ducks exec’s attention.
Max Friberg – LW, 21
The short, speedy Swede started the season off slowly. However, once he was put on a line with Rakell and Etem, he lit it up. He’s an aggressive forward in the offensive zone and loves to shoot the puck. This season is already his best season, statistically speaking, in his professional career. He is definitely opening some eyes in the Ducks organization. He is playing well in the AHL and making an NHL future even more possible.
Jesse Blacker – D, 22
Peter Holland was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ducks got Blacker. He has been a very nice addition. Since joining the Admirals, he has registered 4 goals and 13 assists in only 20 games. He’s an offensive defenseman and has made a huge impact on the Admirals. His play in his own end has improved and is getting close to being a guy the Ducks can rely on to at least be a seventh defenseman at the NHL level.
Mat Clark – D, 23
Clark has fallen down in the prospect pecking order with the addition of Blacker. However, he’s one of the bigger defenseman prospects in the system. He’s 6’3″-212 and plays a shutdown defensive role on the Admirals. If he continues to play well in his own zone, he could become a shutdown guy in the NHL. That could be a bit of a stretch though.
Kevin Gagne – D, 21
Even farther down the pecking order than Clark. He is the same build as Sami Vatanen and is the same style of player. He has the potential to be a useful power play defenseman, but he is very much a project. He was one of the best offensive defenseman in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He’s been a mainstay in the Admirals lineup this season and has been Clark’s defensive partner. They have made some good chemistry and have become a reliable pairing for them.
John Gibson – G, 20
What can I say about Gibson that I haven’t already said. He’s been very good for the Admirals. He’s kept them in games and has won games when they very well should have lost. With the way Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth are looking, and Andersen as well, the Ducks have a pretty big log jam in net. In my opinion, the Ducks need to resign Hiller, let Fasth go when his contract ends and maybe trade Andersen in the future. Gibson is the future starter, there’s no doubt about it.
Igor Bobkov – G, 23
Bobkov is expendable in my opinion. Gibson is the future starter, maybe Bobkov could be the future backup, but he has more talent than that. What will the Ducks do with him? Move him most likely.
Every time I take a look at the players the Ducks have in the minors, I get giddy. I hope that’s not just me.
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